Also recognized for leadership in advancing Canada’s plan for used nuclear fuel management
IGNACE, November 21, 2013 – The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has completed the first phase of preliminary assessment in collaboration with the Township of Ignace and seven others of the 21 communities engaged in learning about Canada’s plan for the safe, long-term care of used nuclear fuel. Ignace is one of four communities identified for further study in the process for identifying a preferred site for a deep geological repository.
“Our Community Nuclear Liaison Committee and citizens who have been involved in this process are to be commended for their contributions thus far,” said Lee Kennard, Mayor of Ignace. “While it will be many years before a final decision is made, we look forward to continuing to work and learn collaboratively with the NWMO. In the next few years, residents can expect to see increased levels of study, community engagement and regional outreach as Ignace continues to learn about this important national infrastructure project and what it might mean for our area if we were to host it.”
The communities of Creighton in Saskatchewan, and Hornepayne and Schreiber in Ontario, were also identified for more detailed study. English River First Nation and Pinehouse in Saskatchewan, and Ear Falls and Wawa in Ontario, were not selected for further study.
“The NWMO looks forward to working closely with communities to plan the next phase of work, which involves field studies, detailed examination of sites and expanded engagement,” said Kathryn Shaver, Vice-President of APM Engagement and Site Selection at the NWMO. “Working together with interested communities, their neighbours and Aboriginal peoples, we will take the time required to gain a better understanding of the project’s potential to satisfy stringent safety requirements and advance long-term well-being of the area.”
Preliminary Assessments are the third of nine steps in a multi-year process for evaluating potential suitability of communities to host a deep geological repository for Canada’s used nuclear fuel and an associated Centre of Expertise. Phase 1 assessments evaluated in a preliminary way the potential for an area to meet or exceed strict safety and geoscientific requirements, and to align with the community’s long-term goals and vision. Any site selected in the future must have an informed and willing host, meet strict scientific and technical criteria for protecting people and the environment for the very long term, and meet or exceed regulatory requirements.
Findings to date do not confirm the suitability of any site, and no community has expressed willingness to host the project at this early point. These findings do not affect work in the 13 other communities involved in earlier stages of the process.
Recognizing Community Leadership
At this milestone in the process, the NWMO is recognizing the contribution all eight communities have made to advancing Canada’s plan for safely managing used nuclear fuel over the long term. In acknowledging these significant contributions, the NWMO will provide $400,000 to each community upon its establishment of a Community Well-Being Reserve Fund.
“Through their leadership, these communities have advanced this major national project on behalf of all Canadians,” said Ms. Shaver. “Each has helped design and lead dialogues to ensure important questions about safety are asked and learning continues. By working within their communities and through early outreach to neighbours and Aboriginal peoples, they have underscored the importance of working together and helped set the stage for the next several years of study.”
Administered by the communities, Community Well-Being Reserve Funds will support continuing efforts by each community to build sustainability and well-being. Examples of activities the funds could support include projects, programs or services that benefit community youth or seniors, community sustainability, energy efficiency or economic development initiatives. Other communities engaged in the site selection process will be similarly recognized upon completion of their Phase 1 studies.
The next phase of work involves more intensive community learning and engagement. Work will take on a broader focus to include surrounding communities and First Nations and Métis peoples. This ongoing engagement will be important to understanding the potential to foster well-being of the broader area and the ability to work together to implement the project. Preliminary fieldwork will begin, including aerial surveys, and at later date, limited borehole drilling, to further assess geology and site suitability against technical safety requirements.
As individual studies are completed, the NWMO will continue to gradually narrow its focus to areas with strong potential to be suitable for hosting a repository. Ultimately, the project will only proceed at a site that can safely contain and isolate used nuclear fuel, and with the involvement of the interested community, surrounding communities, and First Nations and Métis peoples working together to implement it.
It is expected to take several more years to complete the necessary studies to identify a preferred site. Interested communities may choose to end their involvement at any point during the site evaluation process, until a final agreement is signed, subject to all regulatory requirements being met and approvals received.
About the NWMO
The purpose of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is to develop and implement, collaboratively with Canadians, a management approach for the long-term care of Canada’s used nuclear fuel that is socially acceptable, technically sound, environmentally responsible and economically feasible. The NWMO was created in 2002 by Canada’s nuclear electricity producers. Ontario Power Generation Inc., NB Power Nuclear and Hydro-Québec are the founding members, and along with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, fund the NWMO’s operations. The NWMO derives its national mandate from the Federal Nuclear Fuel Waste Act, which came into force in November 2002.
About the Township of Ignace
The Township of Ignace is located in the Kenora District of northwestern Ontario at the junction of Highway 17 and Highway 599. Ignace is also on the Canadian Pacific Railway between Thunder Bay and Kenora. Situated on the shores of Agimak Lake, Ignace is home to 1,200 residents. The economy in Ignace is based primarily in forest products, tourism and transportation industries. The town has its own newspaper, the Ignace Driftwood, as well as strong accommodation and food service sectors that serve travellers along the Trans-Canada Highway business corridor.
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